Message Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: clara cain on June 23, 2017, 01:25:39 AM

Post by: clara cain on June 23, 2017, 01:25:39 AM
Post by: Anna on June 23, 2017, 03:18:02 AM
HA! HA!  Not laughing at you but at what my answer is going to be - we DONT!! Totally against what everyone else does/teaches we don't halter our foals until after they are weaned/are over 6 months old (some have got to be yearlings before we need to halter - we are a lazy lot here!)
We are not breeding anymore (maybe again in the future), but over some 40 years of having foals we have always followed the same programme. Providing the foal is healthy at birth it becomes entirely the 'property' of its dam and 'ignored' by us. Mares are stabled at nights for a month before their due dates and for a month afterward with their babies. During this time, fuss is made of the mares and the foals learn that we are folk to be liked and not feared. Being babies they soon want to meet us and have a good sniff! Gentle scratches on tickle spots are offered by us when baby approaches, we never step towards baby, all steps are taken by baby approaching us. Once they are a month old they move to living out, off to continue playing with their foal friends and terrorising their poor Mums. We always visit the fields several times a day to keep an eye on things and the mares always come over to say hello - followed by their babies. Time passes and soon it is the babies who come charging over to greet us ahead of their Mums. We sit down and play with them, fuss them, scratch them etc. This is also the time that we start trimming feet, a foot here a foot there, its all part of the game that 'silly humans' play! Eventually it gets to the point that babies stand happily for all four feet to get trimmed before a rewarding play session. Life in general for the babies is just fun, freedom and fuss with their new human friends.
Weaning takes place soon after Christmas - most babies being 6 months by this time and we have not had to worry about extra work over the Christmas holiday. Weaning has never been a problem as babies are pretty independent by this time and have friend/a friend when we have only had two of them, and their Mums are pretty fed up with them by this time! When we feel like it we pop a halter on a foal - another fun game - and walk off. Baby follows as normal (together with most of it's companions). Often we will stop, remove the halter and put it on another baby and continue walking. Over time they all get led around and then get taken off around the fields/yard/buildings as individuals. Yes occasionally we have one who suddenly has a 'stubborn' day, so we wait just keeping a gentle forward pressure on the lead rope, they usually give in before we do! Another might have a hissy fit for some silly reason and again we just wait. When it's over we just walk on playing the 'totally unconcerned' game! I wish I could post you some pics but they are all on my old/given up the ghost laptop and I have yet to transfer them here. I have a wonderful sequence of pics showing my g/son (4 years at the time) with his special friend - a filly just over a year old. She was one of those not haltered as she was so easy, but just two days after she first wore a halter he decided to take her for her first walk. Off he went round the farm, past the cows, huge tractors and machinery, up the drive, down into the stream and she just followed full of confidence in her little friend, bless her.
Anyway after all this waffle I will repeat what I first said in answer to your question - WE DONT LOL!!!
Post by: paintponylvr on June 24, 2017, 11:49:46 AM
I LOVE Anna's way! 

But that never seemed to work for us, as when we tried it, we always had issues and problems.

So we've done a huge variety of methods - from actual "imprint training" followed to the letter (that didn't work well for us either with the Shetlands) to just putting a chest & butt rope around them in a figure 8 and leading them that way.  When we do first put a halter on the foal, we usually put a belly rope on them so that we have no direct pull on the head/neck and can always resort back to it.  I've also used a butt rope to encourage forward movement at first... 

If we have 2 people (did when our children were at home), we would often have one lead the dam, the other lead the foal next to or behind the dam.

When we first tie them, we tie with a body rope either to their dam directly or to a fence/barn wall next to their dam.

I have lots of pics but need to run right now.  Will post later!

Post by: Anna on June 24, 2017, 07:13:37 PM
If I weaned my foals the 'normal/usual' way Paula, I, like you would be using a bum rope to start with. Hate seeing the dangerous 'pull forward on the head and neck' way that some folks seem to deal with it.  >:(
Post by: Holly on June 24, 2017, 10:09:33 PM
I am all about trust. Teaching the foal to trust me, so I spend time daily with my horses. All horses get petted scratched and talked to every day.
I do halter early. Once the trust is formed, each foal is different, so I start as soon as that foal trusts me.  How I start is by holding the foal ( no halter involved) petting scratching and talking. Once the foal learns to stay with me, arms holding it, ( by settling down) I release the foal. I do this a lot til the foal is used to me  restraining it. I never FORCE restraint, I reward relaxation. The holding starts of light and a short scratch then release, even if foal is nervous, so they learn its ok. I always do it next to mom.
Once foal is comfy being restrained, and its usually quickly because they trust and love scratches, then I introduce halter by letting them see smell and taste it. after a few days I am able to slip it up over the nose and slip it right back off. once the halter is no longer a big deal I *hold* the foal slip it on  scratch  then slip halter off. pretty soon I am able to do it up and let them walk around with is, short periods at first to longer times. Once halter is done then I will clip on a lead. I start by slight pressure with the lead to each side. all I expect is foal to give to pressure. once that is learned we teach give to pressure forward. lots of patience talking and reward. Never done by force. I always go at foals speed. Usually bu the 3rd month all my foals lead tie and give feet, bathe and clip.
I am sure I am leaving parts out, so I apologize if it seems more like rambling then steps...LOL
Post by: paintponylvr on June 25, 2017, 08:13:08 AM
Here are some pictures of how we have led foals.  This series was taken last year. 

This first one shows how we use a body rope (there is a big ring under the belly that WILL loosen most of the time but I also check it - foal coats here in NC sometimes get sticky and the rope/ring may not slide).  It then slides thru the ring that is attached to the halter.  Now YES, if we were to sit and pull from the side, it can pull on the foal's neck.  We aim to just hold the pressure, while sitting or standing still, and the foal will step forward to relieve that pressure.  It doesn't take long. 


When introducing leading, we then "wrapped" the lead rope back around the rump & then around the neck.  It can be crossed over the back or not and just held w/ the 2 sides together.  Then again, pressure is held and not long before the foal steps out. Having it around the neck is for guidance so that again you aren't pulling on their head.  I then add in pressure from the front of the lead at the halter so that they learn to give their heads and "follow" that pressure.  This looks like a mess and it can be.  It takes a bit of practice to "get it right" (to work), but once you figure it out, you'll know.  OR you could just use separate lead ropes for the "figure 8" around the body separate from the body/lead rope/halter.  I do know of some who have made a "figure 8" that doesn't come apart - they just drop it around the foal's body and go!



Study this pic for a bit.  What you might see at first is that the butt rope is tight and the neck rope is tighter.  BUT look again.  The belly rope has a nice little bit of slack, my right foot is pointing to the right so I'm thinking I'm ASKING her to turn to the right.  The butt rope is pulled "tight" but look how I'm holding it - that's a very light, "tight" - fingers are not locked onto the rope.  The neck section, too, is "tight" but my wrist is not locked, it is bent.  And with the way she is starting to step, I'm pretty sure she did make a turn to right...


and again, pretty sure I'm "asking" her to turn right here and she has raised that right front hoof,so I'm thinking she did...  Also notice that we've handled her from both sides while leading.  I think that is important as well.


and here is a pic of Vicki (who has a serious problem w/ holding the rope this way - I need to make a smaller diameter rope into a permanent "figure 8" for her to help me next time).


Chylly was born on the 6th of May, so she is 10 days old in this pic.  We also rub the halter on their face/neck/body and sniff it, but not usually mouth it.  This is her first time wearing the halter and leading.

Post by: paintponylvr on June 25, 2017, 08:36:04 AM
But this is the handling she'd had previously (I think we'd also posted these in her own thread).  She is 8 days old and has been handled daily a little bit.  One thing that we do do different is if they are held and they struggle, we hold them until they calm, then loosen the hold and scritch them.  Then try to be "inconspicuous" with turning them loose - so that they do not run off but then are standing freely accepting the scritches -







YEP!  I had a bit of fun with these pictures (look, ma, no hooves!; May the girth b with u, etc).  Another thing, it was Sierra that spent a lot of time with Chylly.  She can approach her anywhere in the pasture and call her and Chylly will turn around and walk right up to her.  NOT SO with the rest of us!  We can approach her, too, but the rest of us have to work to stop her moving away and she usually won't turn and face us first...  I have been working on that - but it's been SLOW!

And with the 2 other foals born just a week after Chylly - they got some of the same work, but not as much time.  It makes a difference in handling them.  :)

Post by: paintponylvr on June 25, 2017, 09:38:28 AM
I just have to show a bit more, LOL.  Sorry if you find it offensive?  If so, let me know and I'll STOP.

This is a month later.  It is Chylly's FIRST time leading out of the round pen (in the big wide world, LOL) WITH OUT her dam, who is in the round pen behind them... 


Notice that while Sierra has a body rope and the end of the rope also around her butt, she isn't using one around her neck.  Chylly has become very light and responsive to direction on the halter!


Here is her intro to water (we'd had a lot of rain, and the "pond" was holding it for now).  This "pond" is quite a distance from the round pen and her dam.  She is on the far side of the pond - facing the round pen and her dam - so when she enters the water she is "going back to her mom" -


The butt rope is no longer on, but she is headed towards her dam.  It was put back on to bring her back around to the back side of the pond before doing this again -


Ok.  Here I think that Sierra had asked her to stop while in the water OR to turn towards her (away from the round pen).  The result was that she ducked to the other side of the rope and went up...


While she was in the air, when her hind feet left the ground, Sierra gave a BIG tug on the rope and when Chylly landed on her back, she was in shallower water and her head did not go under at all.  See - it is dry - while the rest of her is "bedraggled"...


Post by: paintponylvr on June 25, 2017, 10:17:26 AM
One thing I will say to all - when you are working with your foal (or a weanling or a yearling or even a mature horse) - if they rear or go up in the air, they can overbalance or lose their balance and flip sideways or backwards.  IF they do, try to actually put pressure on the rope/lead line as they go over.  This will prevent their head from following thru and striking the ground OR lighten the blow if their head DOES hit the ground. 

Y is this important?  Because the force that they can strike the ground with is amazing and very similar to "shaken baby syndrome".  Their brain, inside the skull, doesn't stop moving but strikes the back of the skull and then changes direction and can then strike the front of the skull (or sides if they've gone over sideways).

I was working with a trainer as a teen when I saw this affect with a mature horse that would purposely throw himself over backwards.  The one time, we know that he struck his head and thankfully the trainer had a phone in his barn and the vet was not far away and available.  I had to go home, so wasn't present for all of the treatment, nor do I really remember it well... I do remember that while the horse lived, he was never as wild or fractious as he had been.  He never threw himself over backwards again either.  He was a gelding and did go on to be a decent riding horse - but was never competitive in any western events that he'd been hoped for...

BUT in 1998, we experienced this with a 1/2 Arab/Shetland pony colt.  He was 8 months old, had been weaned for about 3 months and was used to leaving his buddies and our pasture.  We leased the 5 acres back abit from the vet clinic and I had taken him up to the clinic - think he was to get his first Rabies shot and Coggins.  Don't know what set him off - but he startled, jumped forward and then went straight up and overbalanced and flipped backwards.  It happened faster than I could move (& I was in shape then), there was way too much slack in the lead and I'll never forget the "CRACK" when his head hit the hard road (not paved, but packed clay/dirt) OR the blood that spurted from BOTH ears and BOTH nostrils.  The vet & one of the techs had heard it (thought it was a gun shot), and were there before he was on his feet - shaking his head.  One look and the vet was firing orders - he was treated almost  instantly with DMSO nostril drench to his stomach to hopefully prevent his brain from swelling too much.  I don't remember what else he was treated with at the time (know there were some other drugs involved).  We ended up leaving him in one of the vet stalls overnight and he was also put on IV fluids (how he got the other meds, too) and a tech stayed overnight with him.  I could not - at the time Larry was overseas and the girls were 8, not yet 6 and just turned 5.  We lived 8 miles away.

He did spend another overnight in the vet stall before being released to go back out to our pasture behind them.  He stayed on anti-inflammatory for a while - given orally.  It would be later before he got his Rabies and Coggins.  He did return to his very robust self and had no "brain injury" problems or neurological issues that we were ever aware of.  He was a stallion at that time and was gelded the following year as a yearling.

He was started ground driving as a long yearling, under a tiny child's saddle and was "ponied" (led from the back of another horse) over miles of country on trail rides.  He was started under saddle as a two year old and even went to his first show that fall...  I sold him to a family about 100 miles away right as he turned 3 yrs old and they still own him today!  He was a family mount for 2 children - hunt seat & western, showed in speed events and when the kids outgrew his 13 hand self, they taught him to drive.  He will be 20 yrs old next year and they still drive him on occasion.
Post by: dcwolcott on June 25, 2017, 02:44:29 PM
Since I always weaned at 4 months I actually started haltering very early in their young lives.  I stalled dams with their little ones at night for the first month.  They stayed in their stalls with momma for the first 3 days, until true bonding had occurred, because they were much easier to handle once they knew how to listen and pivot on a dime if momma called to them.

I left momma and baby alone the first few days, and then introduced myself slowly in each stall, sitting in the hay and constantly talking to baby.  Most were very inquisitive and had no fear of me, since momma wasn't paying me any attention or showed any signs of alarm, they would eventually come out from behind momma and wonder who or what I was.  Then after day 3, very calmly I would lead momma and her little one to the mare/foal pasture, where they could frolic with other little ones, under the watchful eyes of momma.

By the beginning of week two, me being in the stall was a "normal", and I would then bring in a halter and introduce it.  I let them get quite used to it, the smell of it, etc., and used it to help me give scratches and tickles, getting their own smell all over it.  Then slowly I'd introduce it to them by putting it on and off their little heads -- just for minutes at first, giving up calmly if it scared them at first, but usually just on and off -- just like picking up their feet and putting them down, and introducing them to the brush.  But it was always off when I left the stall, and had it hanging from their food dish.  Yes, each baby had a food dish for nibbling, and most did.

By the beginning of week 3, I'd attach a lead rope and let them get the feel of dragging it around their stall, since that's quite a new feeling. and by the end if the week, since I had a closed in barn with an aisle, I let them out in the aisle with their new little friends, each dragging a lead rope.  What fun they had.  Sometimes I'd pick up the end of the lead, so they could feel the different "pressure" that caused, and then back in the stall with momma.

By the beginning of week 4, I would halter and lead rope each little one with their momma, and lead both to the pasture area for playing.  Leading them with their mommas first seemed to make any leading easier, since they were quite accustomed to following close behind momma.  I usually had the baby lead rope tied to momma, so they felt normal pressure from mom.  I didn't allow any dragging or pulling on the halter, and we'd stop often if baby was showing any concerns or fear or unwillingness to follow.

Usually by the end of month one, they could halter and lead, have their feet picked up, and had been fully clipped -- since here in Florida it gets so hot their foal coats need to be clipped off.  For that I used to put them right in my lap and clip, and they usually all fell asleep when the clippers were doing their job.

Next, of course, came leading without momma, and sometimes I did use a rope behind their bum to encourage forward motion.  But, really, I seldom had any problems.  Then came training to just stand which was done during dinner time with mom in the stall, and baby with his/her dish on the outside of the stall, and tied.  Then I would remove the dish and have them get used to standing outside the stall with no food encouragement.  As soon as any "fretting" was noticed, I would calm them down and quietly lead them into the stall where food was.

Generally, this worked for me. My niece always thought it was so cute to see an entire herd of babies tied to the barn in a row, just standing quietly as I brushed them, lifted feet, and talked to them, increasing the amount of time they were standing.  By then, mommas weren't paying much attention to the process, and the babies were surrounded by friends, so there was little angst.

A couple of my mares always weaned their foals themselves before the 4th month, which was when I separated them for weaning if it wasn't done.  Since they were with friends, there was little trouble and weaning always went smoothly.

We all do it a little different, so you just have to tweak things to see what works best for you. 
Post by: paintponylvr on June 25, 2017, 07:04:20 PM
O, I love that Diane!
Post by: Ryan on June 26, 2017, 08:29:35 PM
When we had TB mares in foal years ago we really didn't do a great deal until 4 months. 

The foals that were bred , were not for sale and were not bred to end up the sales , so there was no rush to do anything quickly.

The first 4-6 weeks were just spent as being a "presence" in the paddocks so that the foals could see their mums coming over to say hello. This let the foals know that us strange looking humans were not that bad and that they could begin to trust us.

By this time it always seemed like the foals were the first to greet us in the paddock , Mums couldn't really care unless it was dinner time.

By about 3 months we started introducing a halter by smell and touch and when confident enough we would put the halter on and then remove it. We would do this every couple of days until the foal became used to us putting it on. We never left them with Halters on at any stage of training/breaking etc. Once the halter was on , front legs were touched down to the hoof , picked up and then placed down.

After this we did nothing else until foals were weaned from their mums. Most of our foals, once weaned, had some further training then they were put out to grow and develop for a further 12 months if not longer.